On March 1, 1903, the rules committee set the height of the pitcher’s mound to a maximum of fifteen inches — prior to this, mound heights were not regulated. The maximum elevation would drop to ten inches in 1969 due to the previous season’s dominating pitching, which saw batting averages plummet to all-time lows.
Here’s a handy little guide for identifying pitches while watching a ballgame. I like how each pitch is depicted from two different angles. Additional descriptive information about each pitch can be found at the graphic creator’s website here.
A quality start refers to when a starting pitcher goes at least six innings while giving up three earned runs or less. Sportswriter John Lowe of the Philadelphia Inquirer coined the term in 1985. While a quality start does not guarantee that a pitcher will walk away with a winning decision for the game, it implies that he has put his team in a position to win the game. Critics of the statistic argue that 3 earned runs in six innings translates into a 4.50 ERA. In spring 1992, however, David W. Smith published an article pointing out that from 1984 to 1991, the average ERA in a quality start was 1.91, indicating that 3 earned runs in six innings was at the extreme end of the spectrum, rather than the norm.
In 1995, Greg Maddux recorded 24 quality starts out of 25 games pitched, giving him the highest single-season quality start percentage (96%). Thus far in the 2014 season, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw leads the league with 19 quality starts in 21 games (90%).
Here’s something fun from Sportsnet Canada, featuring some of the grips of select pitches thrown by the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff. The lineup is a little out of date, but the mechanics and physics of throwing all the various pitches never fail to fascinate. My own half-hearted attempts at throwing a curve ball as a kid never proved fruitful, but then, I was never that committed to becoming a pitcher.